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Interpreting variation to advance predictive restoration science

Published on Aug 1, 2017in Journal of Applied Ecology5.782
· DOI :10.1111/1365-2664.12938
Lars A. Brudvig24
Estimated H-index: 24
(MSU: Michigan State University),
Rebecca S. Barak5
Estimated H-index: 5
(NU: Northwestern University)
+ 7 AuthorsChad R. Zirbel5
Estimated H-index: 5
(MSU: Michigan State University)
Sources
Abstract
Summary Ecological restoration is a global priority that holds great potential for benefiting natural ecosystems, but restoration outcomes are notoriously unpredictable. Resolving this unpredictability represents a major, but critical challenge to the science of restoration ecology. In an effort to move restoration ecology toward a more predictive science, we consider the key issue of variability. Typically, restoration outcomes vary relative to goals (i.e. reference or desired future conditions) and with respect to the outcomes of other restoration efforts. The field of restoration ecology has largely considered only this first type of variation, often focusing on an oversimplified success vs. failure dichotomy. The causes of variation, particularly among restoration efforts, remain poorly understood for most systems. Variation associated with restoration outcomes is a consequence of how, where and when restoration is conducted; variation is also influenced by how the outcome of restoration is measured. We propose that variation should decrease with the number of factors constraining restoration and increase with the specificity of the goal. When factors (e.g. harsh environmental conditions, limited species reintroductions) preclude most species, little variation will exist among restorations, particularly when goals are associated with metrics such as physical structure, where species may be broadly interchangeable. Conversely, when few constraints to species membership exist, substantial variation may result and this will be most pronounced when restoration is assessed by metrics such as taxonomic composition. Synthesis and applications. The variability we observe during restoration results from both restoration context (how, where and when restoration is conducted) and how we evaluate restoration outcomes. To advance the predictive capacity of restoration, we outline a research agenda that considers metrics of restoration outcomes, the drivers of variation among existing restoration efforts, experiments to quantify and understand variation in restoration outcomes, and the development of models to organise, interpret and forecast restoration outcomes.
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  • References (102)
  • Citations (41)
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#1Daniel C. Laughlin (UW: University of Wyoming)H-Index: 31
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#1Nash E. Turley (MSU: Michigan State University)H-Index: 11
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#1Rebecca S. Barak (NU: Northwestern University)H-Index: 5
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Summary Ecological restoration is critical for mitigating habitat loss and providing ecosystem services. However, restorations often have lower diversity than remnant, reference sites. Phylogenetic diversity is an important component of biodiversity and ecosystem function that has only recently been used to evaluate restoration outcomes. To move towards prediction in the restoration of biodiversity, it is necessary to understand how phylogenetic diversity of restorations compares with that of re...
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Summary The outcomes of restoration efforts are contingent on the specifics of the restoration practices utilized, but also on uncontrolled contingencies such as site effects and year effects. Although restoration practitioners have long been aware that the successes of their projects vary from site to site and from year to year, there have been few direct experimental tests of these contingencies. We established grassland restoration plots identically across three sites in northern California, ...
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